Mexico travel tips.
These tips for Mexico will help you on your travels with safety, organisation, convenience and gear.
Learn some Spanish greetings – The number 1 thing that will help you the most in Mexico is a little of Spanish. First of all it’s polite to at least say hello and good morning in Spanish (Hola, buenos dias.), but also showing you know a little Spanish will get you a long way. And people will be more inclined to help you out if you need it. Have a read of the page Quick travel Spanish to get you started and How to learn Spanish.
Avoid ATM’s on the 1st and 15th of every month – This is Mexican pay day. And you’ll be lining up at the ATM for an hour. Avoid these days!
Travel insurance – Please have travel insurance. Without it, it could financially destroy you should the worst happen. I always use and recommend World Nomads ($74 – 2 weeks from USA to Mexico) but whoever you choose to go with, make sure you’re covered before you travel.
Wind up the window in the taxi – If you’re stopped at traffic lights with the windows down, there’s been cases of robbers reaching in the window and grabbing a bag or your phone from your hand. Unfortunately it happens sometimes, so be aware.
Don’t drink the tap water – Buy your bottled water. You can buy 5 litre bottles and fill up your smaller bottles to save a couple dollars if you like. Usually hotels and hostels will also have free water to refill your bottles. The tap water is ok to brush your teeth, but thats all.
Ask to take photos – Don’t just take photos of anything you like or of people in the markets and small villages. In some cases, people can find it offensive. Just a quick ‘Puedo tomar una foto?’ Can I take a photo? And most of the time they will happily allow you to.
Always have small change – Paying with a 500 peso bill for anything under 50 pesos will be difficult and will make the shop/market attendant have to run to go get change. Try and break your big bills at every opportunity when you go to restaurants and when you buy anything over 100 pesos.
Pay in pesos – A lot of places will accept US dollars, but their exchange rate will not be in your favour and you’ll be paying more.
Use ATM’s – Exchange enough money to get you started for a taxi and some food, then use ATM’s. They have better rates than anywhere you will exchange your money. Especially airports. And always use ATM’s in daylight hours to be safe.
Avoid being pick pocketed – These guys can be good, especially in crowded areas, buses and trains. You can take a few steps to reduce the chances of it happening. DON’T put your money or wallet in your back pocket. In crowded areas, keep your handbag/manbag closed and in front of you or wear your backpack at the front. If on the metro, keep your hand in your pocket that has the money in it. You can also buy a money belt to keep your money under your clothes. Always be wary of your surroundings.
Haggle in the markets – With things of greater value. Not for the cheaper items. Read the full guide 10 haggling tips and etiquette for the markets.
Ask the price of the taxi before you get in – Must do!!! The taxi drivers are pretty cunning when it comes to overcharging tourists. ALWAYS agree on the price before you get in.
Take taxis at night – For your own safety, it’s always best to avoid walking too far at night, especially if you’re on your own or drunk. If you are in doubt, always take a taxi. And where possible, get your hotel or the restaurant/bar to call you one.
Take an extra jumper/sweater on the buses – When traveling on the big coach buses or even the mini vans, they always have the aircon on and it’s freezing. Especially overnight.
Check you have everything before you leave somewhere – It’s obvious, but it happens a lot. In a restaurant or cafe, sitting in a park or on a bus, check you have everything. There can be many distractions and if you leave something behind for even a few minutes, it’ll most likely be gone.
Luggage Combination Padlock – A Combination Padlock comes in handy to lock up your luggage or for any lockers you will use and saves the hassle of not losing any keys.
Pack ear plugs – Pack some ear plugs for a good nights sleep. Mexico can get pretty noisy at night and in the mornings. Fireworks/crackers, parties, early morning trucks playing music or selling anything from water, gas or advertising. There’s always something that will wake you up.
Eye mask – Also pack an eye mask. Cheaper hotels and hostel won’t have curtains strong enough to block out the morning sun. They’re also good for an afternoon siesta.
Travel with a multi-outlet charger – Having a multi-outlet charger with added USB outlets for all your electrics to charge overnight is a blessing for those hotel rooms with only one power point.
Travel with 2 bank/credit cards – And ALWAYS keep them in seperate places. Should you lose one, you can cancel it and use your backup card.
Hide some spare money – For emergencies and in a different bag. Then you at least have some spare cash until you can go get some more using your spare card.
Sit on the same side of the bus that you put your bag on – Ever feel a bit nervous that your bag won’t be in the storage when you get off? Sit on the same side as your bag so you can watch at each stop to make sure it doesn’t get pinched.
Scan or take pic of your important documents and email them to yourself and someone at home – Passport, drivers license, travel insurance details. Incase anything gets lost, stolen or your luggage doesn’t arrive
Screen shots – Use your phone and screen shot important information incase you don’t have any wifi so can access it easily. Like, bus/plane tickets, Hotel/Hostel confirmation, address and phone number. Map of the area around your hotel. It will be very useful.
Important phone numbers – Have a list of important phone numbers written down somewhere. Incase of an emergency or your phone gets stolen, you have your contacts for back home.
Please go to the markets to eat – At least once. The food is delicious, and the people need the money more than the bigger restaurants you may eat at.
Street food – Eat somewhere that is busy and where other people are eating. The food must be good and you are less likely to get a belly ache.
Shop with small businesses – It’s just a tip so you can help out the small guys. Instead of buying drinks and snacks at the biggest convenience store in Mexico, OXXO, buy things in smaller shops. I’d rather give my money to the smaller guys.
Shake hands – It is polite to shake hands with everybody you are introduced to. Both male and female.
Have any more tips for Mexico? Leave them in the comments and I can add them in.